This paper, first presented at the 65th International Astronautical Congress, which was held in Toronto, Ontario from September 29th – October 3rd, 2014, is a brief synopsis of the history of astronautics in Canada.
The author wishes to thank the late Dr Phil Lapp and his wife Colleen Lapp for their permission to reveal some of Dr Lapp’s memoirs. Dr Lapp was a founder of the the Canadian Aeronautics and Space Institute (CASI) and of SPAR Aerospace.
He passed away in 2013; the text herein was written by Robert Godwin.
By July of 2002 Sheerin successfully fired a 57,000 lb. liquid fueled rocket engine, the largest ever built in Canada. In August of 2004 his team conducted a successful drop-test of their crew-cabin into the waters of Lake Ontario. Unfortunately when SpaceShipOne won the X-Prize in October 2004, the funding dried up for Canada’s most ambitious attempt at a manned space program.
As the team at York developed ever more sophisticated uses for LIDAR Carswell recognized a commercial opportunity and so in 1974 he formed a company he named Optech. This company rapidly grew into the leading LIDAR company in the world. In 1999 the Jet Propulsion Laboratory approached Optech to provide a LIDAR instrument for one of their proposed Mars landers. Over the next few years the involvement of Canadians in what would become Mars Phoenix, expanded rapidly, despite some ups and downs caused by the loss of an earlier Mars mission. By 2001 Optech and York University worked studiously on developing both the technology and the proposals for sending a Canadian LIDAR weather station to Mars.
Although the media had some fun with the idea of Canadians being the first to discover snowfall on another world, as can be seen by the preceding short history, there was an inevitability about this. Canada is the home of the world’s leading space weather researchers. Canada’s space program, from the very beginning has been concerned with the environment.
In November 2012 a federally appointed commission on Canada’s space future delivered their results to the government. In stark contrast to the Chapman Report, which had concentrated on the programs at hand and had steered Canada’s official space program for 45 years, the Emerson Commission’s report concentrated on policy. The eight recommendations in the executive summary made no mention of any specific program or hardware.[ii] The days of giant cannons and isolated rocket research centers are a thing of the past, replaced by budgets, advisory councils and the politics of international competition.
In 2013 MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) and COM DEV International (COM DEV) teamed up with the Canadian Air Force to build the first Canadian military satellite, named Sapphire. Designed to monitor and track space debris it was also the first major Canadian spacecraft to be launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation.
In February 2014 the government of Canada announced that it would provide more funding to the CSA, but with the proviso that more of Canada’s space efforts be undertaken by the private sector. This announcement was met with cautious optimism by the official opposition spokesman, Dr Marc Garneau. The future of Canada’s space program continues to be as unpredictable as that of its southern neighbor. Not surprisingly the relationship with the United States continues to spur boisterous debate in Canada.
This phenomenon was detected by the Plasma Wave experiment (PWA) installed aboard the spacecraft. The PWA operates by studying the plasma around the spacecraft using two 1¼ cm diameter by 10m long STEM antennae installed on the spacecraft in 1975. [iii]
[iii] http://www.northropgrumman.com/BusinessVentures/AstroAerospace/, http://www-pw.physics.uiowa.edu/plasma-wave/voyager/ssr/PWSINST.HTM and http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2014-221
If you’d like to start from the beginning, check out “Verne, The Fur Country, G.Y. Kaufman, Baldwin, McCurdy & Balfour Currie,” in part 1 of “100 Years of Aerospace History in Canada: From McCurdy to Hadfield.”